Carlos Bilardo says Messi has to win the World Cup to cement his position amongst all-time greats
Carlos Bilardo who was the coach of the Argentina national team when they went on to win the 1986 World Cup feels Lionel Messi has not yet become the greatest player ever to have graced the game of football.
However, he accepted the fact that Messi is undoubtedly the best in the game now. He also thinks that the Argentine scores over Ronaldo as there is a considerable gap between the two. In an interview given to ESPN, Bilardo said, "We are talking about one of the best - but I mean one of the best now rather than in the history of the game.”
Currently, Messi is widely regarded as the best in the world after he sealed his fifth Ballon d’Or which no other footballer has ever done. His team mates Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo were also in contention for the gong. The 28-year old received 41.33 percent of the votes which is also the third highest in history. Ronaldo came second with 27.76 percent votes and Neymar received 7.86 percent votes. Prior to 2015, Messi had won the Ballon d’Or in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
The diminutive Messi is already La Liga’s top goal-scorer of all time and Barcelona has won the Champions League four times after he became a part of the first team. He was also instrumental in Barcelona’s treble winning performance last year.
Bilardo also mentioned that the distance between Messi and Ronaldo is massive. The veteran manager admitted, "Messi really deserved the Ballon d'Or. I think there is a significant gap to the other guy [Cristiano Ronaldo].”
Lauding his countryman’s popularity, he elaborated, “Messi has won a lot and people around the world recognize him. Wherever he goes, people are chanting his name. I think he is among the best. You cannot take anything away from him, but he has not won the World Cup yet. That is something difficult.”
When Bilardo’s Argentina won the FIFA World Cup in 1986, Diego Maradona was a dominant force. Among the goals scored by Maradona in that tournament, two have gone down in history. One is widely known as the “Hand of God” a misjudged handling incident by Maradona which escaped the referee and the other one is list as the goal of the century where Maradona dribbled past five English defenders to score the winner.
While receiving the Player of the Tournament award, Messi’s dejected face at the end of the 2015 World Cup final loss remains etched in everyone’s memory. Perhaps, he needs to clinch the elusive title before he is regarded as one of the greatest football players ever.